How Painful are Dental Implants?

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Pain is a common concern among individuals who are considering dental implants. As with any major dental procedure (or surgery in general), some discomfort is to be expected during the recovery process since it is a surgery that typically involves removing teeth, cutting gums, drilling into the jawbone and inserting a titanium post.

It must be planned and executed carefully so complications, side effects and unnecessary pain can be avoided which is why finding a quality dentist is so important.

The procedure itself is not painful since it is performed with either general or local anesthesia to completely numb your mouth. If you’re anxious about the discomfort during the procedure and being aware of the drilling noises and forces being applied to your mouth, ask your dentist about the available sedative options and suggest that you be put to sleep.

Pain due to implantOnce the numbness wears off, however, pain is one of the first things you’ll notice.

While a small number of patients experience a considerable amount of discomfort after the surgery (usually due to a complication or failed implant), most people find it and recovery not nearly as painful as they expected it to be. Depending on where it was placed, discomfort can also be felt in the chin, cheeks or underneath the eyes.

Patients say that the aching they experience is roughly the same as after having a root canal done or getting a tooth pulled. Overall, patients report that the results are well worth the process.

Will There be Pain During the Surgery?

Dental surgery general anesthesiaThe procedure should be completely trouble-free, but there can be some discomfort. Your surgeon will perform the operation with local or general anesthesia so that your gums and jaw are completely numb.

You might hear/feel the tools being used, but no agony should be experienced. Those who have a phobia of dental/surgical procedures can opt for general anesthesia (injected or inhaled), which allows them to be unconscious the entire time.

Sedatives can help you relax if you are nervous about procedure. Also, it is important to have some way of communicating with the surgeon if the anesthetic wears off while they are being installed. While this is extremely rare, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Will There be Pain After Surgery?

The complexity of the operation can impact the amount and duration of soreness afterwards. Having a bone graft or sinus lift done before your surgery will typically cause additional tenderness afterwards.

You may also experience side effects such as bruising, swelling and bleeding to a certain degree depending on your gum and bone health. The experience varies from person to person and depends on how quickly they heal.

Almost all of the swelling should be gone in the first 3-5 days after the surgery and the pain should be almost completely gone after 7-10 days.

If you notice any signs of swelling, infection or irritation after the timelines mentioned above, you should seek medical attention. They can check the implants and surrounding gum tissue and repair and minor problems. If these signs last for more than two or three weeks then something might be wrong with it.

Ice Pack for Pain

With plenty of rest, painkillers, and ice packs, you should be able to minimize the amount of pain you experience after your surgery. A few days of pain and discomfort is a small price to pay for long-term dental health and a great looking smile.

How to Prevent or Relieve the Pain

There are a number of ways to minimize the soreness you experience during the 7 to 10 day healing period after.

Find a Skilled Dentist
Most importantly, find a dentist or surgeon who has extensive training and experience. I highly advise against choosing the dentist who offers the lowest prices.

Follow Instructions
Follow the post-procedure instructions that you are given carefully.

Take Painkillers
Your dentist will recommend that you take painkillers following the procedure to alleviate the discomfort. Ibuprofen is typically recommended. If you choose to take it, you should take around 600mg every eight hours or so. If this does not relieve your pain, tell the dentist so they can prescribe something stronger.

Use Ice Packs
Used an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables) to reduce the swelling. Apply it to your cheek or lip as soon as you can after you get home.

Salt Water
Bathe your gums (don’t swish or gargle) in warm salt water.

Eat Cold and/or Soft Foods
Avoid solid/hard foods to prevent irritation. Cold and soft foods like ice cream, smoothies and yogurt are ideal.

Continue to Brush and Floss (Carefully)
Pay extra special attention to your oral hygiene.

Get plenty of rest and don’t do anything strenuous to let the healing process do its thing.

Get Help if Necessary
If the pain gets worse, lasts longer than it should or is abnormally strong, contact a medical professional immediately to avoid serious problems.

Problems That Cause Additional Discomfort

There are a number of possible complications that can arise during and after surgery that can cause additional discomfort.

Loose healing cap
The small screw that is placed in the top of the implant while the gum is healing becomes loose. The cap must be removed, cleaned and re-fitted.

Loose implant
Insufficient bone volume, external pressures/forces and more can cause it to become loose. It must be removed in most cases.

Bone burn
In rare cases, the heat of the drill can damage the bone surrounding the post. The prosthetic and dead bone must be removed.

Gum or bone can become infected. This can be treated with antibiotics.

Nerve damage/pressure
A nerve is damaged by the drilling or the post is placed too close to it. Artificial tooth must be removed and redone if it is safe to do so.

The patient’s body rejects the implant. Solutions include trying another type or an alternative solution.

What to Read Next

Over to You

If you’ve had implant(s) done, what was the pain like? How did the procedure go? Let us know in the comments!

24 thoughts on “How Painful are Dental Implants?”

  1. I had tooth 8 & 9 done 5 days ago. Mine was from an accident. Broke my teeth all the way into the roots. I had to have bone grafting done as well. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been pretty painful. The first 3 days were the worst, but nothing the pain meds couldn’t take care of. The worst is when I wake up & everything has worn off. I was only swollen on days 2 & 3, but I didn’t care, as I just laid in bed and chilled out with ice packs. I don’t know if it’s because it’s my 2 front teeth, but I have felt much more pain that some people on here are saying. Up into my nose even. And my surgery went perfectly with a very experienced, highly qualified dental surgeon. The bone grafting just means more recovery & pain. But I know it will be worth it in the end. It’s a small price to pay for what will be perfect teeth when this is all said & done. Someone asked about when your teeth are missing… They gave me a retainer like invisialign, and it has 2 “teeth” in it. I wear it 24/7, and you can’t even tell those aren’t my teeth when it’s in. I only take it out to brush & eat. I actually eat soft foods with it in. I can’t stand having it out. I’m very ready to get my temporary bridge put in while we wait for the bone to fuse to the new implant!

  2. My question is, how long do you go without teeth? If you have all your teeth pulled to have the implants put in, do you have “teeth” when you leave that day, or are you toothless for a period of time?

  3. I’m missing 13 teeth and opened this site just out of curiosity. After reading what y’all have said, I’ve come to the conclusion, leave well enough alone. I was in situations at different times to have 4 root canals and just elected to have the tooth pulled each time.

    I’m 71.

    No thanks, not for me.

  4. I’m a few days out from my 1st implant surgery. My dentist gave me several novacaine shots (a few minutes apart) beforehand to ensure I would not feel anything. The jawbone drilling & post installation took about an hour. It appears he put the part the tooth attaches to in as well so I won’t need a 2nd surgery & the sutures will dissolve on their own.
    I was given a prescription for amoxicillin (anti-biotic) & hydrocodon (pain killer). The pain after the novacaine wore off was quite noticable but not unbearable & 1 pain pill took care of it in short order. I continued taking 1 pill every 4 hrs for the rest of that day & part of the the following day then found I didn’t need them anymore. My face was swollen & tender around my jaw for a few days but nothing major. On a scale of 1-10 I’d say pain was about a 5 immediately after novacaine wore off, easilly resolved with painkillers then only slight discomfort from the sutures & tenderness following that. Not too bad at all.
    Hope this helps..

  5. I had root canal on #30 with 2 roots. Double wide tooth. Soon after root canal, the tooth broke. Waited for a few years until today to extract it. The surgeon also performed bone grafting to improve the chances of implant later.

    The surgery was messy. The surgeon struggled for an hour with an assistant. He had drill, cut through, break off by pieces to get it all out. It started to hurt like someone cutting me up as the numbness started to wear off. Pushed down painkillers. Now waiting for the suffering to be over.

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